Vege Profile - Potatoes

Potato, hail to the chief! My love for you will never die. (But it may need to be reined in as my metabolism slows and my belly grows)  

 

Besides being the most versatile vegetable around, the potato has gotten a bad rep for its nutritional value. A single potato contains only 110 calories per, has no sodium or cholesterol and is a great source of necessary carbs, with whopping amounts of vit C, Vit B6, potassium, fiber and magnesium. 

The average American eats about 124 pounds of potatoes per year while Germans eat about half that again... yet we don’t think of the Germans as an unhealthy nation. The sodium, cholesterol, and fat comes into play once the tasty tubers arrive in our kitchens. Maybe I need to look at how many of my lovely spuds are stopping by the deep fryer before I start blaming them for my ever-encroaching belly.  

 

Out of the vast array of vege grown at streamside, I have had the most conversations about the spuds. People want to know the secret. How do they taste so good, are they a fancy new variety? I have no answers on the magic Dom and Logan wield, but I can share that Swift and Rocket are the early season new potatoes with Purple Heart and Agria finishing off the potato season. They all taste phenomenal and are versatile beyond imagining.  

Ok, some random facts. I love this part. Potatoes were the first vegetable grown in space. Idaho is the potato state. I’ve been told to never visit Idaho by an Idahoian.. Idahoner? because its boring. Clearly they haven't visited the Idaho potato museum. In 1974, Eric Jenkins grew 370 pounds of potatoes from one plant. Over a billion people eat at least 1 potato per day. Cultivated for about 7000 years in the Andes, the spud has only become world renowned since the 16th century, after the Spanish conquest.  

And finally, on a personal note: Patate chaude! I could have learned any French phrase Imaginable. Something useful like “Where is the restroom?” or “Two beers, bartender”. Instead, I learned how to say hot potato. A life decision I am comfortable with. Until one day I find myself in France, in need of le cabinets... 

 

To store: Keep unwashed potatoes in a cool, dark, dry place, such as a loosely closed paper bag in a cupboard. They will keep for two weeks at room temperature. Light turns them green, and proximity to onions causes them to sprout. Don’t put them in the refrigerator, as low temperatures convert the starch to sugars.  

 

To prep: Scrub well and cut off any sprouts or green skin. Peeling is a matter of preference. In soups, the skins may separate from the flesh and float in the broth, but when baked, pan- fried or roasted, the skins acquire a crisp, crunchy texture.  

 

To cook: Use waxy, low starch potatoes for boiling, roasting and slicing. Starchy varieties for baking or frying. 

Boil potatoes in water for 20-30 minutes until tender. If desired, mash them. Use potatoes in soups, hash browns, and salads. Roast sliced or whole small potatoes with fresh herbs, salt, and olive oil at 180 degrees until tender, about 30 minutes 

 

Traditional dishes 

  • Lithuania: Cepelinai (Zeppelins) are potato dumplings made from grated and riced potatoes and stuffed with ground meat, dry curd cheese or mushrooms. 
  • India: Aloo Gobi a curry made with potato, turmeric, and cauliflower 
  • Ireland: Colcannon; mashed potato and cabbage or kale. 
  • Greece: Skordalia. A thick potato puree emulsified w/ olive oile 
  • France: Gratin dauphinois, pommes fondant.  
  • Peru: Causa Rellena or Potato Empanadas. 
  • Spain: Potato Tots Bravas. 
  • Korea: Gamja Jeon, savoury potato pancakes.